Anxiety, Stress, Frustration… Oh my!
As the pandemic continues to heighten, so does the toll it takes on marriage and family. The future feels uncertain, quarantines are in full swing and the holidays are a reminder of being separated from loved ones.
These fears and disappointments place added stressors on relationships and can lead to disconnection, bitterness, resentment, loneliness and hopelessness. Since the pandemic, the divorce rate across the U.S. has increased by at least 34%. Now, more than ever, is a time to protect your marriage!
Last week I shared with you three antidotes to these marital threats:
- Create Space
- Be Patient
- Build Bonds
You can read more on these HERE.
This week I share with you three additional remedies to make your marriage pandemic proof…
4) Stay Organized
More time at home equals more mess! And more mess equals more chaos ultimately causing more stress. Maintaining an organized and tidy home during the pandemic may feel like a losing battle. But sometimes we just need new strategies and a little help! Keeping your home free from clutter and generally clean will reduce everyone’s anxiety.
- Set aside time each day to resume organization and tidiness. Try not to let more than one day go by without picking up. Just like a workout or preparing dinner, make this part of your day.
- Employ help. Now that family members are home more often, they can be a part of the solution. Divide the chores, paying attention to age and availability. Keep in mind this should be a stress reducer so think strategically and set yourself and others up for success.
- Gut and purge. The more time spent at home somehow also produces more stuff! Simplicity is the key to staying organized. Grab two black garbage bags and make a family goal to fill them every week- one for trash and one for goodwill.
- Keep cleaning supplies handy. If possible, store them right where needed. This way you can do a quick clean without added time and energy. Don’t worry about deep cleaning every time, just do what you can when you can. And when time presents itself, gather all family members, put on some music and have a deep cleaning day! Working together is always more productive and much more fun!
5) Plan Your Days
Do you know that the more decisions you have to make in a day increases your stress level? It’s true! Taking the guesswork out of your day by creating a routine creates predictability which lowers stress. A routine also encourages productivity which is a remedy to depression. Although it may seem like a good idea to lay in bed all day, studies consistently show that following a daily schedule improves overall mental and physical health.
These strategies can help you reduce the level of stress in your day:
- Keep a daily calendar of events. Write in your plans for the day. Be sure to include your personal time, couple’s time and/or family time. It may look different lately but it is important to have purpose to your day.
- Set goals to use extra time for enhancement. Take a marriage building workshop together. Complete an online course. Do a family Bible study. This will also give you a feeling of accomplishment.
- Develop a daily routine and stick to it. Plan the rhythm of your day starting with waking up at the same time every morning. Make your bed. Get dressed. Eat breakfast. This may seem elementary but chaos can creep in without an intentional daily routine.
- Fill your days with balanced activity. Schedule time for work, rest and play. Working from home can blur the lines between job and family. Schedule start/stop times to your work day. Turn off your notifications during family time and set boundaries with your employer where possible.
- Maintain self-care. Constant stress raises the body’s levels of cortisol putting you at risk for serious health conditions. Symptoms like anxiety, depression and insomnia can directly impact your relationships. Maintaining regular self-care by getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, exercising daily and eating nutritiously are critical in the fight against stress.
- Beware of the potential for substance abuse. When anxious or depressed or just by having more time on hand, a drink may seem like a harmless pick-me-up. Reports show that substance abuse is on the rise since the pandemic. Create personal boundaries related to substances and discuss these openly with your spouse.
6) Think Positive
The Mayo Clinic reports that positive thinking can actually increase life span! And just like illnesses, bad attitudes are contagious. During this pandemic, it may be difficult to stay positive. But instead of an environment filled with pessimism and negativity, what if your home was filled with peace and joy? A respite from the chaos?
Here are some things you can do to encourage positivity in your home:
- Reward good behavior. Refrain from being critical. Point out positive things about one another and say “thank you” often.
- Post inspirational messages around your house. Mirrors, cabinets and refrigerator are great locations.
- Write loving notes and leave them for each other to find throughout the day.
- Serve one another. Make a point to serve each other at least once a day. This can be giving up the last donut or ironing a shirt.
- Create intentional laughter. Did you know that laughter is more contagious than a cough? Be on a mission to make each other laugh every day. Laughter is good medicine!
- Make up games to spark positive feelings like an “Affirmation Jar”. Regularly fill it with affirming statements about one another and take turns reading them at the family dinner table.
- Choose kindness.
- Say “I love you because…____(fill in the blank)____”. Tell your loved one not just that you love them, but tell them why.
Don’t let your relationship fall victim to the pandemic! Follow this prescription to protect your marriage and family and do more than just survive during this pandemic, set your mind to thriving!